County basking in industrial growth

Published 8:32 am Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Panola Partnership CEO Joe Azar


With recent plant openings, all Panola buildings are currently filled

For the first time in more than a decade, Panola County can boast that every currently available building for industry in the county has an occupant, and some sites are being renovated in hopes of attracting additional business.

“The Panola Partnership is proud to announce that all marketable industrial buildings in Panola County are full,” said Partnership CEO Joe Azar in a release last week.

“One of my biggest fears when I took this position was the infiltration of the warehousing industry. Warehousing typically employs a handful of hourly positions. On the other hand, manufacturing and distribution companies employ shifts full of positions with various livable pay ranges, on average, ten times the jobs with better benefits,” Azar said.

In the past year the county has seen the addition of four industrial operations – Blauer bought and renovated the Batesville Casket Company building, Humic Growth Solutions purchased and made additions to the Hide building in Sardis, Greenserv bought the Tucker building, and CITE Armored acquired and renovated the old Serta building.

“Not only have we filled our empty buildings, but we are growing our existing industries. They are our family and we communicate well. Before the end of 2021, Panola County will grow 775 new jobs,” Azar said. “The Concourse will be fully opened in 2022, offering pre and post employment skills training to 800 people per year that want a better life.”

Azar said that his studies of  economic development strategies taught him to recognize industrial health. Simply put, if an industry continues to innovate and add technology they are planning to remain and grow in a community.

If not, their equipment will become obsolete and their services and products become irrelevant, he said.

“We keep track of this and continue to encourage and assist all of our industry towards innovation and growth,” Azar said.

Close working relationships between the county’s Board of Supervisors and the city’s Mayor and Board of Aldermen, with the help of state and federal agencies, have accounted for much of the recent economic successes, according to the county’s economic developer.

Besides the recent industrial expansion and general interest in Panola County, real estate developers are currently renovating both the old Framed Pictures Enterprises building and the former Panola Mills building located on Pearson St.

Those properties will soon be available for showing and marketing to potential industry, city officials say.